Monday, March 5, 2007

Ayutthaya, Saturday, March 3, 2007

Today, Piamsuk and Dee, a friend of Nongnath's, took Louis and me to the second capital of Thailand, Ayutthaya. This is another World Heritage site, and for good reason. Though within an hour's drive of Bangkok, this area has preserved an astounding amount of their ancient history.

We toured the one temple that survived the assault of the Burmese in the 18th century (with its gold Buddha and an even earlier one in an unusual straight-up sitting position), the local museum full of precious objects saved before looters got all of it in the 1950s, and the exquisite Bangpa-In Summer Palace, followed by lunch on a river boat restaurant with superb seafood. Though it was very hot (getting hotter every day now), we had a great time. At the summer palace, one of our favorite buildings was a relatively small, floating house with doors and windows on all sides, where the royal family can take a cooling ride on the river. You'll see that the rooms are small, but sumptuous.
You'll also notice a yellow shirt in my hand in the first photo. To my astonishment, when we arrived at the palace, the entry guards said I needed something to cover my shoulders (despite the fact that there were many other women with very short sleeves showing more of their arms/shoulders than my shirt did). I could "rent" a yellow shirt for a deposit of 100 baht, to be returned when I left. OK, says I. Similarly, when we wanted to enter one of the small palace buildings where a famous royal bed is displayed, ladies have to rent a sarong skirt to cover their pants or shorts, and men aren't allowed inside unless they have long trousers. We passed on that building. Apparently all of these rules are because this complex is still occasionally used by the royal family.

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